After engaging themselves in painting and music,the disabled soldiers at the Armed Forces Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) are ‘star’-struck now.
Awed by the ‘world above’,their families have now set up their own PRC sky club. Recently they took some time out to learn about Venus and other celestial objects in the sky at PRC campus in Khadki.
Thanks to the initiatives taken by the Jyotirvidya Parisansthaan (JVP),PRC is now actively encouraging its disabled soldiers to pursue astronomy as a hobby. Says Col S P Jyoti,director of PRC,”We have a range of activities for our soldiers who are admitted here for spinal cord injuries inflicted during war or non-enemy action.”
While they pursue their own interests like painting and other hobbies,learning more about the stars and celestial bodies will be exciting for them,he added.
Subhash Karmarkar,member of the JVP says,”This is the international year of astronomy and there are more than 1,000 members working actively with several institutions including Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics for popularising astronomy as a hobby.”
Amit Purandare,a volunteer with the JVP explained the constellation and other details as the soldiers viewed the sky via telescopes at the PRC campus. As part of training in the armed forces,soldiers already got exposure in astro navigation science. Hence,this activity could help them bond with like-minded astronomers,said Col Jyoti.
He also pointed out that the soldiers are earning their livelihood at the centre. “We train them in various disciplines. Three of them have already working in IT companies. The armed forces spend Rs 60,000 on each soldier every year. We have also started a tea-packaging project which will enable them to earn their own income,” he added.
As part of their efforts to encourage soldiers to take up more activities and even jobs,the PRC is now on the national rehabilitation circuit. The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) has given a special satellite dish to the centre through which all the programmes of the RCI are relayed. This helps the soldiers to scout for job opportunities,says Col Jyoti.